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We moved from a 3-bedroom house in Nashville to a 500-square-foot studio north of Rome. There are downsides, but we love it here.

Zeneba Bowers   

We moved from a 3-bedroom house in Nashville to a 500-square-foot studio north of Rome. There are downsides, but we love it here.
  • My husband and I left our 2,000-square-foot house in Nashville and moved to a studio north of Rome.
  • Our 500-square-foot space is small and we miss having a clothes dryer and hosting dinner parties.

In 2005, we were a newly married couple living in our 2,000-square-foot house in Nashville.

Although we had steady gigs performing in a symphony orchestra in the US and liked our three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home, we dreamed of living in Italy.

Fifteen years later, in 2019, we applied for Italian work visas as musicians. When they were granted, we sold everything we owned — including our home. We quit our gigs and, by April, had bought a house in a town north of Rome.

By November, we'd officially moved to a tiny 500-square-foot house in Italy with a bathroom the size of a Spirit Airlines lavatory.

Our new place has some downsides, but we've found a lot of workarounds

Our small Italian home is beautiful but it has its issues.

First of all, the entire house is one big open room that's about the size of our old living room — our kitchen, foyer, and dining table are all in the same space.

It was hard to leave behind our big dining room, where we had countless dinner parties. We miss the candlelit, boozy gatherings with family and friends we had at our house in Nashville, but we found an alternative.

These days, instead of having our friends over to our house, we invite them to local restaurants.

With our lower cost of living, we can afford to "host" by picking up the tab. Plus, there's no shortage of excellent restaurants in Italy — and long, laughter-filled, boozy dinners are kind of the norm here.

We also really miss having multiple bathrooms and a jacuzzi bathtub, which was great after a long day of rehearsing, recording, and performing.

Our tiny bathroom here barely fits a toilet, a little sink, and a shower box. Fortunately, we live in an area known for its thermal baths that ancient Romans enjoyed thousands of ago.

Whenever we crave a hot bath we head out for an overnight trip to a nearby spa hotel or book a local farm stay with an outdoor hot tub.

Laundry is also a bit complicated here. Electricity is expensive in Italy, so electric clothes dryers aren't common. Instead, people here hang their clothes outside to dry, which means we can only do laundry on the days the weather permits it.

Keeping track of the weather just to have clean clothes can be annoying, but it's a small price to pay to live in this beautiful country.

For us, living simply with less stuff has also made life less stressful

We didn't realize how much living here would lower our overall stress levels.

In our 2,000-square-foot home in the US, there was a constant stream of things that needed replacing or fixing, whether we needed a new roof or had to repair our dishwasher. Something costly always needed our attention.

Here, our expenses are incredibly low. Although electricity is pricey, having a small house makes our bills manageable. We don't pay much to heat or cool our house — and we don't have a ton of upkeep.

Because of this — and Italy's lower cost of living compared to the US – we can afford to dine out and travel regularly. If we ever get cabin fever from being cooped up in our small home, we just hit the road and explore the country.

We have less clutter and fewer things, and we spend most of our time enjoying the spectacular view of a castle and mountains from our terrace.

For us, moving here was the best decision we ever made.



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